New species of human ancestor discovered in South Africa
So they believe to have found a different species of human, they have titled Homo naledi who they say, had the brain the size of an orange, an opposable thumb, and from what the researchers say, went to great effort to bury their dead in more remote areas of caves, suggesting a society that cares for its members.
We all know about the stereotypical tale of the “knuckle dragging Neanderthals” and the upright, large brained Cro-Magnons, but as time goes on, we are finding the cartoonish understanding of these different humanoids are probably wrong. For example, the old images of Neanderthals depicted them with darker skin, dark hair…when further examination, and even just thinking about the climate they developed in, would suggest they probably had fairer skin, and probably reddish hair. This is not a universal belief right now, but the fact they lived in colder climates suggests that they, like the Nordics of the modern era, may have had lighter skin as an adaptation to less sunlight. This new “species” is not the only one….since not long ago the species comically coined “the Hobbit” ( Homo floresiensis) was discovered, which apparently lived on a remote Indonesian island.
One interesting thing that has been reported about the Neanderthal vs Cro Magnon competition is that for apparently, a long time, the technology of the Neanderthal and the Cro-Magnon was comparable. But suddenly (of course in archaeological terms, suddenly is an hour or so…its all relative), are for no apparent reason, the technology of the Cro-Magnons, relative to the Neanderthals, took a giant leap forward. The more we learn about the Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals, it appears they both took care of members of their tribes who were sick or injured, and both had relatively well developed cultures.
There are various theories on why the Neanderthals seemed to have disappeared…there is the replacement theory, and the assimilation theory http://anthro.palomar.edu/homo2/mod_homo_4.htm It is of course possible that the real explanation is a combination of my factors…i.e. perhaps they not only interbred with Cro-Magnons, but some died from diseases after coming in contact with Cro-Magnons, diseases they had no previous exposure to, and thus, no immunity.
But, my own belief is that there may have been many “human like” species over time, and that the species that survived interactions, were the more cunning, more violent. In other words, a very peaceful group, with modest resources, who wanted to live in harmony with a neighboring group, might be easily wiped out by their neighbors who had no such desire to share the wealth so to speak. An aggressive species, of a lower intelligence, would have no compunction against sudden raids on their neighbors, and simply stealing the technology they had developed.
I personally don’t like that explanation, that view of history, but I think it is reasonable given even the history we have seen in the last two centuries.
With regard to the Neanderthals, I think they were NOT the brutish creatures that popular culture depicted them as. I think if they had a fault, it was perhaps they were too trusting of this other group with the more gracile Cro-Magnons.
The story of our species, even more than that of the other animals, is I believe,
“written in fang and claw”. History bears witness that usually, the more violent, aggressive group, will prevail, and either subjugate or wipe out their less violent, less aggressive neighbors. Technology can empower a group to flourish, making food production, shelter production more effective…but, it can also be turned toward weaponizing things. We know that in Korea, when farmers were forbidden to possess traditional weapons, they took their farming implements such, and turned them into weapons. Jumping forward to the USA, we know that huge amounts of money are
spent on weapons production and research. We lunge headlong into being the group with the most dangerous , most powerful, most frightening of weapons…going far beyond what would be needed for mere defense.
So, to the extent we in the USA are warlike, fairly intelligent, and not adverse to being aggressive, it would seem that we, like the Cro-Magnons, will survive.